Born in Mongolia and raised in Tokyo, Arisa Yoshioka lives and works in New York, where she works primarily in oil paint and mixed media on linen and canvas. Mostly on a small scale, her paintings have a distinctive quality of perspectival flatness about them, in which certain recurrent motifs – hands, glassware, the female body – seem to hover like petals on water, or shadows playing across a wall. At the same time, the presence of decorative items like beads or fabric attached to the surface of many of the works adds to a disarming mood of disruptive, homespun playfulness.
Yoshioka characterises her approach to artmaking in terms of exploration and testing of her chosen media: an accretive process of bricolage invoking a loose, cosmopolitan tradition of naïf or outsider art that is responsive to an eclectic range of influences. Figures like the British artist Madge Gill, the Italian Carol Rama and the Japanese Kiyoshi Yamashita are all present in Yoshioka’s practice. Her work responds to that of figures who have sometimes been deemed ‘mad’, but whose imagery radiates a special warmth – a kind of friendly magic in which the familiar becomes ineffably strange.
Just as Yoshioka invokes this broad graphic tradition, so she also alludes to the work of photographers and other artists whose work has included photography, like Masao Yamamoto and Hans-Peter Feldmann. The idea of multiple photographic exposures is incorporated into Yoshioka’s images as a way of rendering the world in terms of translucent layers of meaning. The real and the imaginary are inseparably bound up: frames that have become fused together in a dark room experiment and can no longer be prised apart.
Appearing like fragments of fully realised personal mythologies, the works in this selection mark the emergence of an unusual visual imagination: one that moves in an indeterminate space between realism and abstraction, sending back fragile messages from a more complete world.